The “eco-mafia” faced off against the “white middle-aged-man mafia” in the States Assembly yesterday during a debate about the island’s commitment to carbon neutrality.
Politicians were debating a proposal by Deputy Jess Perchard, which suggested policy positions that ministers, and members of a Citizens’ Assembly - established as part of the Island’s already-approved Carbon Neutral Strategy - might want to discuss before any concrete policies are established.
She asked that such policy scenarios, which the Citizens’ Assembly will be presented with after its formation early next year, should include measures to disincentivise non-commercial and non-essential car travel, disincentivise the ownership of several cars within a single household; incentivise the use of public transport and non-motorised travel; and incentivise one-car or no-car ownership in each household.
In the end, States Members backed her proposal by 39 votes to 4, but not before Members had decided to debate the merits of each policy position, rather than the merits of presenting them as discussion points.
Pictured: Deputy Jess Perchard‘s backbench proposition was successful.
This led to accusations flying across the virtual house.
Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash said: “I would like to say, because someone has to say it and most are too afraid, we are in danger of being run by an eco-mafia.
“You cannot just push through everything on this eco-agenda, and I think it is someone we should be very wary of, especially when it comes to income inequality, because a lot of the eco-agenda is going to hit those in the more income-challenged sectors of society.
“I think that is something that everyone needs to bear in mind.”
However, the St. Clement Deputy then said he would support Deputy Perchard’s proposition.
Pictured: Politicians ended up discussing their own car ownership and transport habits.
Although also backing it, St. Helier's Deputy Rob Ward took umbrage at Deputy Ash’s assessment.
“This notion of an eco-mafia is just a ridiculous idea,” he said. “In fact, what we have here is a white middle-aged-man mafia who wants to be in denial about the reality of what is happening in the world and what is faced by younger generations.
“It is about time you woke up, did your research and got some understanding of the real world.”
Referring to the ‘one car per household’ idea included in Deputy Perchard’s discussion points, some politicians raised objections because some islanders enjoyed collecting cars.
St. John Constable Chris Taylor said that he owned two classic cars, while Environment Minister Deputy John Young said that he owned three old Land Rovers, although he conceded that he would be prepared to give them up if any Carbon Neutral Strategy meant that he was no longer allowed to own them.
Pictured: The Environment Minister said he'd be prepared to give up his old Land Rovers.
The backbench proposal by Deputy Perchard was always likely to succeed after she accepted an amendment by the Infrastructure Minister to tweak some of the words around her wish that future policies around parking must take account of their potential to increase income inequality.
Although the Government’s two main strategies to fight global warming - the Sustainable Transport Policy and the Carbon Neutral Strategy - have been delayed by the covid pandemic, both Deputy Young and Infrastructure Minister Deputy Kevin Lewis told the Assembly that previously redeployed officers were now fully committed to them.
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